Stroller Buying Guide for New Parents
"You are never too young to enjoy a German-engineered ride!" Reads the ad for a high end baby stroller, which costs a modest $699.
A market exists for a new type of high-tech, designer-series baby gear, and for a good reason. These strollers are light-weight, they fold up really small, and they look great. Unfortunately, I don't have a Mercedes kind of budget--I'm looking for something more like a Toyota, a Hyundai, or even a Kia. And besides, Daddy needs a new big-screen plasma TV.
Fortunately, baby strollers come in many different designs and styles, and across a spectrum of budgets. And like automobiles, a stroller can be designed for cross country action or a smooth ride on paved roads (think shopping malls and airports).
If you're buying a baby stroller for the first time, these helpful tips can help you decide if you are looking for a hotrod or a mini van.
Baby Strollers on a Ferrari Budget
Stroller Buying Tips for Everyone
There ARE almost as many baby strollers out there as there are models of cars, and they vary almost as much in price. Now that I've decided not to buy that Orbit baby stroller, here are some things you might want to consider before buying this essential baby gear.
Strollers are one of the top choices for a group gift for new mothers at a baby shower, because admittedly, in or out of the box, a stroller makes a BIG impression at a baby shower. Knowing WHICH stroller to purchase can be a challenge, however, especially if your gift is a big surprise and you don't have clear ideas about what the new mom-to-be wants. But since a stroller is a mode of transportation, like a car, you can use some of the same guidelines to help you decide which model is just right.
First, decide how you will be using the stroller. Obviously, the answer is transporting the baby somewhere. But will you primarily use it at the shopping mall, indoors on smooth surfaces, or while exercising outside on rugged country roads? Do you often travel by car or by plane? Are you looking for a stroller you can use to zip through the airport and stow on a long flight?
Next, how much space do you have to store the stroller, at home and in your car? Bigger is not always better. Grandparents and first-time parents often fall into the trap of buying the biggest stroller with the most bells and whistles. If you don't have room to store it, then that stroller may not be the one you're looking for. If you decide you prefer the features of a jogging stroller with three large bicycle-sized tires, then look for a stroller model that has detachable wheels. How much space does the stroller occupy in your car? How much room is left for diapers, groceries, a spare tire, or luggage for a weekend trip?
Make sure your stroller has plenty of storage space for holding a diaper bag filled with diapers and a change of baby clothes and a woman's purse. If you are using the stroller to exercise, you will probably use the storage space under your stroller to toss your jacket and hold a water bottle for you, too.
How soon will you be using the stroller? Are you a busy, on-the-go mother who craves the society of others? Do you need a stroller that will haul a newborn? If you plan to haul a newborn in your stroller, look for a model with an adjustable 5-point harness, or one that works with your car seat. Some strollers are designed so that a car seat can be attached to the stroller for use with an infant. New parents are sometimes surprised to learn that umbrella strollers and many jogging strollers cannot safely be used until baby is old enough to sit by herself. Infants don't usually sit until about 6 months of age.
You may decide that you actually need two strollers--an umbrella-style stroller for short, indoor shopping excursions and a nicer jogging stroller for your exercise routine.
Are you planning to have more than one child in your family? Then consider how your stroller will wear over time. We purchased a Graco-model compact stroller, which had the features of a full-size stroller with the ability to fold into a relatively small area, which we needed for our compact-sized family car. After I used it as my exercise stroller for a little less than a year on gravel and dirt roads, the wheels were worn down to almost half their size. I now need to replace the wheels and have purchased a jogging stroller that maneuvers better on the dirt roads in Western Arizona. I am thrilled with my BOB stroller, which I purchased used.
Look for a stroller that has a washable cover. Ideally, all the fabric parts of your stroller will be machine washable. This means you should be able to easily remove the fabric from the stroller's frame, and throw it in the washing machine.
A nice feature of jogging strollers is a movable handle.This feature is quite handy if your walk places baby in the path of bright sunlight. Even in the wintertime, a baby's position can make them quite uncomfortable and crabby if the sun's rays are shining directly into their eyes.
Double strollers are a must-have if you have two children who are less than 30 months apart. You will need to find a stroller that can accommodate an infant and a toddler, because it is almost impossible to wrangle an active toddler while safely carrying an infant in her car carrier. Double strollers can be ginormous (in other words, huge), but they are a necessary evil, in my opinion.
Good luck finding the perfect stroller! Daddy may just have to wait to buy his Plasma TV after all.
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